© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
John Singleton Copley, American (Boston, MA 1738 - 1815 London, England)
William Ponsonby, 2nd Earl of Bessborough (1704-1793)
Work Type
Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
59.1 x 48.9 cm (23 1/4 x 19 1/4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • Signed: l.r.: J. S. Copley RA/ 1790
  • inscription: on verso: Earl of Bessborough
Claude A. C. Ponsonby, presumably by descent; sold at Christie's sale of Ponsonby Heirlooms to Sabin, March 28, 1908; purchased through Martin Birnbaum by Grenville L. Winthrop, November 1941; his bequest to the Fogg Art Museum, 1943.

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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Publication History

Augustus Thorndyke Perkins, A Sketch of the Life and a List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley, J. R. Osgood & Company (Boston, MA, 1873), p. 128

Frank William Bayley, The Life and Works of John Singleton Copley: Founded on the Work of Augustus Thorndike Perkins, The Taylor Press (Boston, MA, 1915), p. 199

Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1966), vol. 2, pp. 286n, 298, 342, 352, 412-413, pl. 590

Dorothy W. Gillerman, Gridley McKim-Smith, and Joan R. Mertens, Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1969), p. 238

Emily Ballew Neff, "The History Theater: Production and Spectatorship in Copley's 'The Death of Major Pierson'", exh. cat., ed. Emily Ballew Neff, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (London, England and Houston, TX, 1995), p. 70, fig. 48

Emily Ballew Neff, "John Singleton Copley: The Artist as 'Realist' and London Impresario" (1997), University of Texas at Austin, pp. 107, 273, ill.

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), p. 160, cat. 101, ill.

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu